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Road report: Phantoms 3, Norfolk 2

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  • Road report: Phantoms 3, Norfolk 2

    Couple of news bits to hit right off the bat:

    – Phantoms captain Jared Ross did not make the trip to Norfolk because of a family emergency. He’s doubtful for Saturday’s rematch. Best wishes of course to him and his family.

    – Johan Backlund and Jason Ward both returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game against Bridgeport with minor ailments.

    This game marked the season’s halfway report (for a midseason report, see Saturday’s column) and the Phantoms are now just two points behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for third place in the East Division and the final playoff spot. For as inconsistent as this team has been at times, they’re right in the thick of the playoff race.

    A big reason for the Phantoms to be where they are with their offense as poor is it is* has been the goaltending, and it was superb again on Friday. Johan Backlund won his sixth straight start, stopping 35 of 37 shots, including some spectacular ones. Whatever becomes of the Flyers goalie situation, I hope it doesn’t mean less time for Backlund, who can’t do much more than what he has so far this season.

    Krys Kolanos, activated for the second-straight game, had a goal and assist for the second straight night. Jon Matsumoto also padded his team-leading points total with a goal and an assist.

    Lots of controversy around the end of this one as Norfolk claimed Matsumoto’s game-winner shouldn’t have counted. The puck was under Jaraslov Janus for a long time, but the referee never blew the whistle. To add insult to injury, Norfolk appeared to get one past Backlund with about 1:30 to go, and this time the referee said the whistle had blown. That officiating crew, which returns for Saturday’s game, should probably order the beer in rather than go out Friday night.

    – Tim